Martin Luther King Day

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As time passes, the controversy once associated with Martin Luther King Day fades. People who remember the controversy die, and new generations are only thankful for the three-day holiday. Eventually, people may forget why the holiday is celebrated.

King was a brave and courageous person. I agree with him that a person should be judged by the content of his character and not by the color of his skin. To those who stress King’s loose sexual morals, I reply that sin is that for which we ask God’s forgiveness.

My problem with Martin Luther King Day is that it celebrates a civil rights revolution that achieved the opposite of King’s intention. Today we are judged by the color of our skin.

This conclusion is inescapable wherever we look. Those with darker skins have become "preferred minorities" with rights to employment, promotions, training programs, university admissions, and federal contracts that are greater than those of "whites."

New crimes known as "hate crimes" are being created that only "whites" can commit and only "preferred minorities" can suffer. If a "white" assaults a "black," the charge will be assault and a hate crime. If a "black" assaults a "white," the charge is only assault.

"Preferred minorities" have special rights to be offended that "whites" do not have. Indeed, a "white" who offends a "black," whether intentionally or unintentionally, can be charged with racial discrimination or with a hate crime.

Preferred minorities can call whites names, but whites cannot call preferred minorities names.

Ordinary language has become a minefield for whites, who must tiptoe around, aware that the slightest mishap can bring a lawsuit or destroy a career.

These persecutions happen in the name of "diversity," but diversity suffers. There can be black fraternities and organizations, but not white ones. Southern cultural symbols, together with all symbols of the South’s defense of states’ rights, are headed down the memory hole. Is there never to be an end to Reconstruction?

Whites are demonized in movies, theater, rap lyrics, and school textbooks. Christopher Columbus and the American Founding Fathers have been reduced to evil racists who practiced white male European hegemony over minorities and women. Any textbook author who described preferred minorities in comparable language would be driven from academic life.

Was there ever a time when whites were taught to judge blacks by the color of their skin? Many people may have had prejudices that produced a similar result, but blacks were not demonized.

If we insist that blacks were demonized, how is it an improvement to demonize whites? Today, blacks are taught skin color judgments, just as feminists teach gender judgments, and communists teach class judgments. Whites are taught the same skin color judgments, which explains the predominance of "white guilt."

The great paradox of the civil rights revolution is that instead of enforcing and expanding equality before the law, the revolution created differential rights based on race, gender, and, any day now, sexual orientation. The great liberal revolution, centuries in the making, that brought forth equality in law, has been overthrown. In its place we see rising a new feudal legal order of status-based rights.

Lawrence Stratton and I documented the rise of the new feudalism in complete detail in our book, The New Color Line. Not a word of refutation of our account has ever appeared. Americans have accepted the overthrow of liberalism. As the new feudal order arises, strife will be its handmaiden.

What would Martin Luther King do if he were alive today? Would he endorse redistributive "racial justice," which means the end of limited government and the death of legal equality, or would he come to the defense of equality before the law?

Martin Luther King knew that legal equality was the promise of the American compact. Those who take his name in vain assume that they will always be the ones who determine the boundaries of discord. But the evisceration of legal equality overturns the promise of liberty. In the wake of liberty’s demise will follow evil, plunder, and violence.

Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

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